Life Management Tips from a First Generation College Student

Briseida EsparzaBeing a first-generation student, or FirstGen student, brings a lot of added on pressure on all aspects of your life. You have your parents reminding you of the responsibilities at home, your siblings nagging at you to spend time with them, schoolwork piling up, having to go to work, trying to make time for friends, and let’s not forget the commute most of us have to make.

Know that Family Time will Change

First, you have to let your family know that for the next few years, their lives and yours are completely going to change; you are going to be the busiest you have ever been. You have to let your family know that while you still love them, you may not be involved in your family life like you used to be. Now, it may seem hard at first, but give your parents a chance. Let them have time to adjust with you, because after all, this is new to them too.

Communication is key with your parents and with the rest of your family. If you need study time you have to let them know, and you have to explain to them that for a portion of the day you need time for yourself. Family is the backbone, support and stability we have in our lives. Although you may feel bad for putting your family on the back burner, keep in mind they also want what’s best for you.

Make a Plan for Success

UNICEF club at UST

I joined the UNICEF club at UST to support children worldwide through education, advocacy and fundraising.

So the first thing you learn when you start school is that it is essential you have a plan: a time management plan that is. Most aspects of your life are things that you can’t set aside or interchange, so it’s essential for you to be able to know how to prioritize them.

Once school officially starts, you might, nay, need to get a planner. Trust me, it is essential for you to have a way to organize your thoughts and your time; a planner is the best way to do it. You can also download apps that send you reminders of due dates, important events, and tests.

Personally, I like to look at my schedule and see at all the different times in my week in which I have free time. Free time is something I always keep open. Schoolwork is highly important, but you have to keep in mind that your body needs rest and you also need to have fun. It’s hard to think about having fun when you have homework due at the end of the week, but remember you can’t do that homework if you aren’t paying attention in class because you’re tired.

Communicate With Your Boss

Work is definitely harder to move around, but once again communication is key. I let my employer know as soon as I get my school schedule of my availability. Also, let your employer know that around midterm and final time you need extra time to study. What I like to do is see if there is a way that once a month I get a full weekend off, so I can spend time with my family and hang out with friends. It really is about making sure that your employer knows your schoolwork comes first.

You Can’t Do Everything All the Time

Briseida Esparza, Katie Cole and Cassandra Garcia

As a sophomore, I served as mentor for the Freshman Symposium Program. Here I am with fellow mentors Katie Cole and Cassandra Garcia.

Now, prioritizing does mean that something has to come first and something must come last. So, many times problems arise when you want two things to come first, but unfortunately there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

What I find that troubles me the most is that I get caught up in taking care of school work and my job that I forget to have a personal life. Then the next thing I know, I’m so burnt out I don’t have energy to do my homework or anything else.

My next problem is that I try to please everyone at once. I tend to take up extra shifts at work when people ask me to earn extra cash, but then find myself short of time that week. The way to fix prioritizing problem is to learn from them.

Don’t Be Afraid to Adjust

The best thing to do when all of my priorities run together is to remind my self that my current list of priorities is not permanent. Your priorities are not set in stone. One week your schoolwork might be light, so your priority for that week maybe your family, or if there is nothing major going on in school or in your personal life then taking an extra shift might not be a bad idea.

The most important thing of all is to know one thing—you should be your number one priority.

By Briseida Sarai Esparza

About the Author — StThomasHouston

The University of St. Thomas is the only Catholic, liberal arts university in Houston, Texas. We have 35+ undergraduate majors including STEM, Nursing, Business, Education and Pre-Med. Located in a vibrant urban environment just minutes from downtown and the famed Texas Medical Center, we welcome students of all races and religions to our diverse and collaborative campus.

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